BRUSSELS – Of all the myriad challenges facing the European Union with the pending departure of Britain, one unlikely issue that needs to be resolved is the fact that English would no longer be an EU official language.
The EU has 24 official and working languages, and each of the 28 member states is allowed to nominate one.
While the U.K. chose English, Ireland selected Gaelic and Malta picked Maltese. That means that, with the departure of the U.K., English — the most widely spoken and written language in the EU’s institutions — might be an endangered species.
French and German officials have lobbied long and hard for their mother tongues to be more widely used in Brussels, but English has been hard to dislodge as Europe’s lingua franca.
In a speech to the European Parliament Tuesday acknowledging the loss of Britain as an EU member, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker used only French and German. Previously, he had often used English as well, particularly when addressing issues close to British hearts.
Speaking at a news conference Monday, the chair of the European Parliament’s constitutional affairs committee was blunter when talking about the consequences of the U.K.’s pending departure.
“English is our official language because it has been notified by the U.K. If we don’t have the U.K., we don’t have English,” Danuta Hubner, said according to Reuters.
Here’s a look at how the Brexit fallout is affecting politicians, the U.K.’s economy and leading to an increase in xenophobic attacks.
Racist attacks spread following Brexit vote
Britain has seen a surge in reports of hate crimes following last Thursday’s vote.
The U.K.’s National Police Chiefs’ Council said its website allowing people to report hate incidents has seen a more than 50 per cent rise in reports since the Brexit vote.
“Hatred not only has the potential to cause serious physical and emotional harm, it damages communities and undermines the diversity and tolerance we should be instead celebrating,” the Chiefs’ Council said in a statement. “Police forces will respond robustly to any incidents and offenders can expect to receive enhanced sentencing.”
In one widely reported instance, three teenage boys verbally and racially abused other passengers on a train, telling one to “get back to Africa.”
Britain’s AAA makes an exit
The major credit rating agencies adjusted their evaluation of the U.K. economy.
Standard & Poor’s took the nation’s AAA rating down to AA. Fitch Ratings and Moody have also lowered their ratings for the U.K.
Who is in charge?
Britain’s Conservative prime minister David Cameron has already announced his impending departure in the fall and now opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has lost a no-confidence vote from his own party Tuesday.
Corbyn has said he will not resign despite losing a confidence vote that saw 172 Labour MPs vote against him, with just 40 voting for him.
Meanwhile, Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who some call the last credible leader left in British politics, said Tuesday she will head to Brussels to protect Scottish interests in the wake of the Brexit vote.
“These times call for principles, purpose and clarity — in short, for leadership,” she told lawmakers. “This is why the vacuum that has developed at Westminster is so unacceptable. Politicians who proposed this referendum — no matter how bruised they feel by the result — have a duty now to step up and deal with the consequences.”